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EarlyBird Check-in: A Convenient Way to Travel

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Once again, Southwest Airlines is introducing a new product to make traveling a little easier for our Customers.  Many of you have told us how important it is to get an early boarding position so you can find that coveted seat without having to watch the clock for your 24-hour window to check in.  Today, I am excited to introduce EarlyBird Check-in - one more way Southwest is providing convenience during your travel experience.  For just $10 (one-way), EarlyBird Check-in Customers will automatically obtain a reserved boarding position before general check-in begins.  You no longer have to worry about checking in for your flight as we will do the work for you to help you get a better boarding position, which of course leads to improved seat selection and earlier access to overhead bin space. 

 

This project is one of many that we have been working on to bring you more options.  The process has been fast and furious, but with the help of several Southwest Teams, we were able to bring this new product to life in just a matter of months.  It started with just an idea on the whiteboard, but quickly went from an idea to a creative concept online that is now EarlyBird Check-in.  The fun part was coming up with the name for the product.  Check out just a few that didn’t make the final cut, and let us know what you might have called the new product.

 

  • Shotgun                                                                      
  • Leapfrog Check-in
  • Jet Ahead                                                                   
  • Gimme a Lift
  • First Dibs                                                                   
  • Jump Seat

                                                           

Of course, we continue to offer Customers our premium Business Select product, which guarantees that you will be one of the first Passengers onboard your flight—with a drink; extra Rapid Rewards credit; and FlyBy Security Lane access (at select airports) as added benefits!  EarlyBird Check-in Customers will begin boarding the plane after our Business Select and Rapid Rewards A-List Customers. For more information about EarlyBird Check-in, visit our web site: http://www.southwest.com/flight/early-bird-retrieve-reservation.html  

225 Comments
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Hey this is like tipping the maitre d' to get a good seat in the restaurant. If I slip the Ops Agent a $20, can I sit up front with the pilots?
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I hope that this does not get to the point where one person buys the early board and then tries to 'hold' seats for family members. I had this happen on a flight where an A board saved the remaining emergency row seats and when my husband and I tried to sit down, she went ballistic. The flight attendant did not enforce the rules as we understood it, which if you cannot 'hold' seats for later boarding passengers. If you are going to do this with Early Bird boarding, make sure the flight attendants don't let passingers 'reserve' seats for their friends when their friends do not buy the Early Bird boarding. If I pay for Early Bird, I expect to be able to sit where I want to, not be told the seat is 'held.' This could really lead to bad conflicts among passengers!
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Is there any way to find out how far ahead in the line I'll move if I purchase an EarlyBird pass? What if the plane is full of Biz Select, A-Listers, families with kids who board after A, and other EarlyBird people? I would be very unhappy if I paid $10 (or $40 for my entire family) and I still end up with a C pass. At least on other airlines with the advance seat assignment fee you know what you're paying extra for. Oh and I also read in the FAQ that if you purchase an EarlyBird pass and then need to cancel your flight you lose the EarlyBird payment, no refund, no exchange. Nice.
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How does one purchase the early bird after paying for their Southwest Vacation? The Southwest Vacation people do not have any idea on how to do this yet. Did you let them know? If you are going to roll out a new fee, it should be only applicable to new flights when you release your new schedule for bookings. For the rest of us who paid for our tickets in advance, it like being shaken down for a extra $10 each way. Even the other airlines make fees only applicable for bookings after their fee announcement. It like being assigned a aisle seat on another airline and paying for your ticket, then being told a few days before you leave you'll have to pay $10 if you still want the same seat.
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How much money was lost making all those * No Fee * ads? Bags are next...Your goose is cooked !!
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anonymous 13:21 (gee that looks like scripture, instead of a time stamp) I checked with our Marketing folks and it should have worked unless you are already and A-Lister or attempting to purchase less than 25 hours before flight time. anonymous 15:25 (I'd LUV to be at an Anonymous family reunion!) I have asked the same Marketing folks about the Southwest Vacations issue. Brian
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sandy, EarlyBird customers will almost never have a chance to try to save the exit row. Business Select customers or A-listers will take those seats virtually every time. I'm hoping that Flight Attendants will keep seat saving to a minimum and prohibit it anywhere near the front of the plane. nsx at flyertalk.com's Southwest forum
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@Anonymous 14:43 - I fly SFO-SAN as my most frequent route, taking usually 12-14 trips per year. VX and WN are usually price matched on this route and VX's promo coupons through their marketing partners are tipping the balance these days. This is a comment that is unique to my current situation and it may not apply to those who travel coast-to-coast, the BWI-LAS example was simply an example. And yes, I can deal with having a non-exit-row seat for 1.5 hours (length of flight from SFO-SAN), but that's besides the point. What I'm really trying to say is that WN risks alienating their in-between customers like me, who fly frequently enough but not enough to reap the benefits of A-list, and I don't fly on my company's dime so Business Select is not an option. Those customers like me, who have flown WN for their consistently low fares now have other options through VX and the like and it is still those paying customers that contribute to the overall revenue of WN.
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I'm not feeling the LUV for this idea at all. I agree with commenters who rightly point out that the current boarding system is not enforced. Walk to any gate and you'll see it. Board any plane with the A group and you'll see plenty of folks saving seats. This system will only make matters worse and lead to more confrontations, which the flight attendants avoid. I'd prefer to just pick my own seat when I buy my ticket, thanks.
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Also, if you pay for Early Bird, at what time point do you need to check in before your flight? If you don't check in at the airport or online an hour or two before your flight, do you lose your reserved seat? Again, I'll comment I'm not impressed. Boarding and finding space for my bag would go a lot more smoothly if the SW gate agents would enforce the rules, especially carry on number and size. Legacy carriers and assigned seats seem a lot more reasonable now.
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It all comes down to seat choice, right? Just think about the difference in what SWA offers versus other airlines. Picture this......you buy a ticket on SWA 2 days before departure. You pay $10 each way on top of your ticket price, and you have the opportunity to be checked-in automatically with a pretty good boarding position....probably an A. Go try and buy a ticket on American, Delta, AirTran or whomever, 2 days before departure. Have fun choosing from the 5-10 middle seat assignments that are left. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE on other airlines. Do you not see how the SWA system is better in many regards?????? Even if you do nothing more than just check in 10-12 hours before the flight and print your boarding pass, chances are that you will end up with a window or aisle seat. Have you ever seen a family of 4 try to sit together on an airline that has assigned seating? It's virtually impossible unless you buy your 4 tickets a year in advance. Every family runs up to the ticket counter of other airlines to beg for seat change requests only to be denied time and time again. On Southwest, families board after the A group, which is 60 boarding positions. There are 137 seats on most SWA planes. I've never had a problem finding seats together on the plane for my family with SWA's family boarding style.....with almost 80 seats left to choose from. Just head to the back of the plane. Sure, you may want to front row, but who cares, as long as you are all together. The business guys on the front row don't want to sit by you anyway! When I have to begrudgingly fly AA, I've never once seen a family of 4 sit together. They are all over the plane and bargaining to try and switch seats, etc, as I watch the clock and see my departure time come and go time and time again while every passenger stuffs two bags in the overhead bin to try and avoid the bag fees.
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Sandy - SW has no policy in place prohibiting saving seats, so there is nothing for a flight attendant to enforce. . Passengers may sit in any available seat. If a passenger becomes unruly during boarding then that opens another can of worms. There are polite ways to handle a disagreement and we would hope that the traveling public is aware of that if they can't behave for boarding then maybe the bigger question will be can they behave during the flight. To all - feel free to sit in any open seat and a purse, computer, coat, lunch, etc. does not make a seat unavailable. 😉
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If I accept the additional $10 EarlyBird Fee as the cost of purchasing an airline ticket in today's economic environment, then why doesn't Southwest allow the EarlyBirds to print boarding passes 36 hrs ahead of flight without the Automatic EarlyBird Boarding Position Program. If I print the boarding pass 36hrs before flight, I should receive a lower boarding number than someone at 30hrs. Non EarlyBird fliers print their passes at the 24hrs mark, as it is now. All Business Class & A-List board first. At least on other carriers when you pay for an up charge for cabin class or seat location you usually have an assigned seat.
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If you read the FAQ, people are told they can buy 1 EB ticket for 1 passenger in your entire group. So basically, they are almost encouraging people to "save" seats. I feel badly for the flight attendants! We fly SWA at least 4-5 R/T flights a yr. We have 4 in the next 5 months alone. I'm not bothered by not getting an exit seat, I am getting stressed that I will not get seats for my family together! I have always made it a point to check in as early as possible, usually 24 hours prior, in order to make this happen. So now I have to pay extra each trip to TRY and insure that we won't have a hassle finding seats or holding up the plane b/c others don't want to give up their seats so I or my husband can sit with our young children? (Which I have seen much too often lately on SW as it is) I'm going to have to look into JetBlue or other airlines now where I know are seats are together. Very disappointed! Very bad business towards families!
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The feeling of nickel and dime-ing is a tough nut to swallow. I actually liked it when you created the poles and the ABC loading zones, but this idea of buying a lottery on your seat assignment I don't like. I think Southwest should reconsider this option. Why are you trying to get as close to possible to assigned seating without actually having assigned seating? I thought the original intent was that the un-assigned seating made boarding quicker. Is that no longer the case?
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Very bad idea. Just makes everything more complicated, not better. It will just slow down the boarding process, create fights over "saved" seats. I sure as hell am going to sit where I want if I have paid extra to get on to get a good seat...etc. SW is the only beneficiary as tons of flight will be booked with this option and they will keep the cash if you change or cancel your flight. So in the end it is damn the customer so we can charge customers not to fly. That is the "ULTIMATE" new fee! If they cared about customer experience they would give you more information about whether your purchase would give you a reasonable chance at a better seat. In fact as I think about this, perhaps it could be prosecuted as a "illegal lottery" under some state laws as you are paying money now for an unknown outcome based on chance!
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Guys... no different than the old days when BoardFirst was in existence -- at least this alternative is legitimized. Gary Kelly mentioned that Southwest's commitment is to not charge any new fees for things we ALREADY get for free. So far, this appears to be within line of that. If you don't like it, then you could always rush in at the 23:59:59 mark as you always have. Let's face it... the days of guaranteeing yourself an A boarding pass are long gone. With Business Select and A-List... I've had cases where 23:59:59 yields me a B boarding position! The front half of the plane still gets there just as fast as the back half. If some people want to pay $10 each way for an advantage, who am I to begrudge them... at least I know that the price of my ticket gets me two checked bags and a seat. Who knows? Perhaps there might even be cases where I opt for this additional service myself. Note: I was a big critic of the last change in the boarding policies in regards to the impact to families with SMALL children. We adjusted and learned new ways to still achieve our objective. Have flown several times and have never found myself in a situation with the kids where I couldn't sit together. If you are a parent flying with a toddler, then make it a priority, plan ahead and get online 24 hours in advance to get that spot.
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First, I am very happy to see that the majority of people are against this idea, a sentiment which is being reflected across airline blogs and message boards. This is a bad idea. In recent years Southwest just seems determined to destroy their own business model. First it was flying into destinations they had stayed away from for years that can only be trouble (BOS, LGA, DEN), now its fees on the “no-fee airline”. Fees and ancillary revenue have become the standard for legacy carriers but I had sincerely hoped and rooted for Southwest to outsmart the other guys and find another way, as they have for so long. This new fee shows that Southwest is not the Southwest I thought it was. As a 6’6’’ college student who travels every other month or so out of PHL I appreciated being able to log on 24 hours in advance to ensure that I can have as low of a boarding number as possible and most importantly, leg room. If I wasn’t able to get a low number it was not a big deal as I hadn’t lost anything. This fee doesn’t guarantee me anything and if I can’t get the extra leg room, the 10 bucks will have been a waste. This is a slippery slope to more fees and complicates a boarding process that Southwest prides itself on keeping “simple”. We now have Business Select, Rapids Rewards A-List, EarlyBird (Pay-first, board first?), General Boarding, and Family Boarding. Simple enough right? Should we expect an announcement about assigned seating next month because with this much complexity that is where we are headed. Southwest is simply getting away from the position it has carved out for itself with its recent moves. I understand the economic downturn has hit the airlines as hard as any industry but now is the time to reinforce why people have flown with Southwest in good times and bad not make them question it. Companies survive economic downturns by being smart and reinforcing their values. With this Southwest has resorted to the cheap nickel-diming of the rest of the airline industry and has turned their back on some of their most core values. Where is the LUV?
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I can't wait to see the commericals for this. Other airline: Southwest says we don't like your bags. Well at least we don't make you pay to sit with your family. This new policy is a terrible idea for families. For those who can't afford to pay the boarding fee, you risk being able to sit with your family. I have two trips scheduled with Southwest later this year, after that...I may have to go back to Delta (as scary as that sounds!).
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Maybe this could come FREE with a companion pass membership as well!
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Horrible, Horrible Idea!!!! Not a chance in H-E-L-L I'm gonna pay $10 for the "opportunity" to improve my chance of getting an A boarding pass. I don't have a problem with frequent business travelers having the benefits they had under the previous system because the playing field was still level for us little folks who don't travel frequently. I've got a SWA flight in a couple weeks and another in October. Rest assured that if I go to check in 24 hours in advance and don't get an A pass like I have in the past I'll be pretty cranky. And it will definitely impact my choice to fly SWA in the future. SWA, are you listening?!?!? I'm starting to wonder if what I think matters anymore....
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Did the boss know about this half-baked plan? It looks like marketing might have misjudged the response. It also seems like there is no clear idea how exactly work this $10 (one way) lottery ticket, especially for the already purchased tickets, vacations, and gift cards. Sad, simple Southwest times appear to be over.
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This is getting back to the old debate between open seating and assigned seating. If you buy your tickets way in advance and don't change them, assigned seating is clearly superior for you. If you buy less than a week before travel, you will do MUCH better with open seating. As another poster said, you simply can't get a assigned seats together for a family unless you book pretty far ahead. You have to go to the gate early and try for the seats that were held back for airport assignment. Each system has its strengths and weaknesses, and no system is superior to the others in every respect. I have a feeling that Southwest's system with EarlyBird will work out just fine, and that a year from now it will be seen as a non-issue. Just as look at how the furor over mid-boarding for families settled down once people had a chance to experience it and realize that their fears were inflated. nsx at flyertalk.com's Southwest forum
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Are you getting this Brian, Your customers are NOT feeling the LUV. No matter how you justify this it is a fee. As long as you don't check bags on the other carriers, at least you can pick your seat, with this I will have to pay 20.00 round trip in order not to be in the B or C group. Bad idea Southwest. People are going to start calling you Southworst again!!!!
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WN could learn a few things from the gang at Air New Zealand about "hidden fares." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elD38pJX7iE
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Here's what I'll gladly give $10 for : Stop the business traveler from thinking it's their right to put their roller bag, laptop, and coat in one overhead bin, so they can stretch their 30" inseam legs. Your 2nd bag goes under your seat. And here's $10 if you can keep the guy behind me (not the toddler, the other guy) from slamming his tray table up and down. Don't have to be an engineer to see which seat it's attached to - mine. I'll drop another $10 for keeping the woman quiet who's trying so hard to impress the guy she met at the bar by laughing so loudly at all of his dumb remarks. Christmas presents missing from my bag last year on AA. Canceled/changed flight times without notifying me on my San Juan trip on DL. Has Southwest spoiled my flying experience by offering me an upgrade? Nope. The lack of common sense and civility has. My last $10 goes to the quiet, polite person who smiles and makes eye contact instead of "saving" a seat for their imaginary friend.
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Having travelled extensively in Europe on their low-fare airlines, what ends up happening is that virtually EVERYONE gradually starts buying the "early-bird" option... leaving those who don't with the worst seats imaginable and pressuring them to jump on board the "early-bird" bandwagon too. I've seen entire flights where hundreds of people buy that airline's version of "early-bird" and are pissed that they are still #100 or higher in line. I predict this will happen with Southwest as well if they don't limit the number of Early Birds per flight.
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Well, LUV just lost a lot of my shorthaul business. I'm typically about 4 segments a 12 month period short of A-list. I also tend to buy biz select fares for longer flights and refundables for shorter flights (I often book inside the "wanna get away" window). I'm not doing middles on those shorthauls, which is essentially where this ends up. Crank the fare up $20. This is particularly nasty because, as has been documented elsewhere, LUV does not instruct their inflight staff to stop people from saving seats. Ergo, one member of a family is going to spend the $10 and save the whole row. And the F/As are not going to stop the practice. And the ops agents are not exactly diligent enforcing boarding order as it is. Huge thumbs down.
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This is an absolutely terrible idea. SW, you've tarnished your image with this hair-brain idea. Please recant. My husband and I fly approximately 20 RTs per year (yes, I'm an A-Lister and probably not impacted), but still want to add my two cents to the pool of people voicing disagreement and disappointment with this latest move. You've just thrown away customer loyalty and goodwill for what? ten bucks? Shame on you.
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OH I cannot WAIT for one of my 3 children to snuggle up next to one of your $10 paying customers! And I hope they (kids) are in an espcially fowl mood! NOT b/c I want some poor innocent passenger to suffer - simply so they realize they wasted their 10 bucks to LEAP FROG me ... no, no ..... you are nothin' but be a sitting duck! BTW I always play by the rules and check-in on-line to (try) obtain A status vs abusing family boarding.
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swa employee Amy, stop drinking the Kool-aid and face the fact that SWA will be like all of the others VERY shortly. Paying for something you didn't have to pay for before...admit it, it's a FEE! I guess ALL airlines need to charge fees to make a profit (which SWA, without "fees" hasn't so far this year), but we don't have to like it...and don't like it even more when you try to pass it off as a "service" and not a fee.
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Like the great majority listed above, I think this is a bad initiative. It unequalizes and complicates a pretty straight forward check in policy. Hopefully your past tradition of listening to your customers still exists and the plan will be reversed in the near term. Business Select- regular customers flying frequently paying the premium price - I understand your reward and regard for them. But now all you've done is add a fee to regular fliers. I have to comply and pay or accept middle or back of the plane seats. If 50 people on a flight pay, you mean there will be a 10 person "A" group? Good luck with the passenger reaction with that one. Your good prices and schedules and reasonable boarding policies have made me always include Southwest as an option; and usually the reservation. Now whenever I look at your fares I have to add $20 per round trip ensure I get a reasonable seat choice. That's enough to offset your advantages, which I think is not the way you want to go in this environment. And by the way - what about connecting flights. Is the fee applicable on each segment??? I'm in the front OAK-LAS and in the back LAS- to where ever? Did the cost just go to $40 round trip?? This one needs more time on your drawing board. Thanks for the listen.
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I havent read all the comments, but this seems to me to be a perfect precursor for SW to the added baggage fees to double bash customers into one or both fees. Just raise you f'n ticket prices $10 -- stop with all the tricks - that goes for all airlines actually.
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Definitely not a fan of this new "fee." Kept waiting to see when Southwest was going to cave and start adding nuisance charges. If they are going to stack the deck against budget travelers - first business class, now people that pay the fee - they might as well go to assigned seating. Very disappointing.
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My heavens it is an optional 10.00 fee for a shot at being checked in automatically, without having to hover over your computer to be a lower number. You pay more for better seats at concerts, baseball and football games, why is this any different? Oh I know it is 10.00 not 120.00 more. If you fly now that school has started you will all be a low number. SWA does not charge for the 1st 2 bags under 50 lbs each, they only charge 25.00 for unaccompanied children vs 100.00 on others, they have more lower fare seats per flight than any carrier I have found, they have the best Frequent Flyer program in the industry, they provide safe, friendly service to most places I want to go. I will not let this Early Bird thing get my worm, I am holding my LUV stock and hedging my bets if it won't work they won't keep it. Grab your bag IT'S ON.
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Just switch to freakin' assigned seats already... was never in favor of it before, but with this Early Bird lottery thrown into the mix, assigned seats would be better, easier and certainly less confuising. Apparently you no longer want to have a unique niche and want to be like all the other guys, so why not go all the way?
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I just heard the news this morning that Southwest is CUTTING a flight from Jackson, MS to Chicago Midway. On top of the $10 fee to get "priority boarding" that is extremely disappointing news. The flights from Jackson to Chicago and return are ALWAYS full so I don't understand the rationale of this move; we already lost direct flights to Indianapolis. As much as I love traveling Southwest and some of the perks, looks like my family is going to have to find another carrier where we won't get pushed to the back of the boarding line because we didn't pay an extra $20 and where we have a variety of non-stop flight options instead of just 1. Tsk, tsk Southwest.
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I goofed when I mentioned earlier that Early Bird is available for Southwest Vacations tickets. While Early Bird is available for Rapid Rewards Awards tickets, it is not available for Vacations. I am sorry about the mixup Brian
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Enough already, Southwest! Just assign seats and charge more across the board. You are no longer the old Southwest. Please cease creating any more ridiculous boarding classes ( accompanied by disingenuous, saccharine press releases about "convenience"). Whom do you think you are fooling? Truly, the emperor has no clothes.
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When are EarlyBird Check-in Customers' boarding pass positions reserved? EarlyBird Check-in Customers will be checked in automatically and receive a reserved boarding position 36 hours prior to their flight's scheduled departure time. SO HOW DOES SWA DETERMINE THE EARLY BIRD BORADING POSITION? IS IT BASED ON TIME OF TICKETING, PRICE OF FARE PURCHASED, OR TIME OF EARLY BIRD CHECKIN PURCHASE ETC? DMJ.
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So, you're flying with you wife and two kids and can't really afford the extra $80 bucks round trip, now you have to worry about being split-up. I'd rather pay for the can of pop and the small bag of nuts! Whoever came up with this idea needs to be flogged!! What if everyone on the flight decides to pay the extra $$$...somebody's gonna get screwed. Why don't you just go to assigned seating when the ticket is purchased. It's principle now...time to start flying with someone else.
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If you load first and try to save seats, you can save those seats until somebody wants them. Seat saving is fine until a Customer boards and wants the unseated seats. This is not new and it is no different then when a A Customer holds for a C friend. The B Customer that wants that saved seat can claim it if they so desire. Come on people now smile on your brother everybody get together let us love one another right now. Southwest Airlines carries over 100 million Customers a year, this FEEture will either work or won't. Remember new Coke? If the demand is not there they will not keep it around. Some people especially seniors who do not fly often enough to be in the A group who have to show proof of age to check in will gladly pay the 10.00 to have a shot at boarding earlier than others.
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Believe it or not there are people out here who could use that extra ten bucks. It may not mean much to some, but it means alot to others.
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Come on SWA!! I do not like this program at all. Why don't you raise ticket prices for all fares by $10? I know this concept looked good on a whiteboard, but hello - we 'YOUR CUSTOMERS' do not like this. If you want to change that badly go to assigned seats or better yet if you really want this 'early bird', then limit the number of seats per plane for it!! Keep this up and you will force us to fly another carrier.
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I have been a loyal customer of Southwest for over 15 years and will go out of myway to fly Southwest because you are not like the other airlines. SOUTHWEST ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS ON THIS BLOG! We understand your need for additional revenue but, be upfront with us just charge 10.00 more for each ticket.
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This just doesn't feel right and is not in line with the SWA that I've come to love. This is departing from the mission. This does NOT give me freedom, but instead is based on chance. I feel more like the $10 is a wager on a lower number. No guarantee and nonrefundable. Depending on when I book and pay for EB, a computer assigns me my boarding number. Will RR numbers "secretly" get better numbers on the sly? With the other airlines almost matching SWA from Nashville, I'll be flying them and paying them more to have a seat assignment. I've paid the fees on reservations in the system currently, but will evaluate it in the future. For years, I've said "SW is my favorite airline." I'm not ready to give that up, but I'm disappointed.
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not a fan of this at all. Defeats the whole purpose of becoming an A-Lister and Frankly is another step toward becomming just like any other airline; catering to business travelers. Oh by the way, with the economy and sorry state of the other aiirlines, many business travellers seem to be flying SW anyway and getting over not having an assigned seat or first class seating. I hope this gets re-thought.
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Note to Anonymous - I'll be sure to bring a roll of duct tape with me just in case I sit next to one of your kids in a foul mood. Have fun un-taping their mouth after the flight. += ) OH I cannot WAIT for one of my 3 children to snuggle up next to one of your $10 paying customers! And I hope they (kids) are in an espcially fowl mood! NOT b/c I want some poor innocent passenger to suffer - simply so they realize they wasted their 10 bucks to LEAP FROG me ... no, no ..... you are nothin' but be a sitting duck! BTW I always play by the rules and check-in on-line to (try) obtain A status vs abusing family boarding. Anonymous — Thu, 09/03/2009 - 00:46
New Arrival
I have always been a very loyal SWA customer and applaud the way the company is run and the values upheld. Honestly this seems like a move in the opposite direction. Bottom line is, I HATE the way other airlines like AA board the ridiculously long list of classes first...First Class, Executive Platnum, Platnum, Gold, and the list goes on. While I wasn't thrilled with the the idea of Business Select and A List members, I recognize the need to reward loyality and provide some extra perks to the full fare customers. Having to pay now to get a decent boarding pass is silly. I would rather pay for a bag fee because at least in this situation, the airline is incurring extra expenses for baggage handling and transport (versus the customer who doesn't check bags). In other words, its fair that the person checking bags has to pay more than the person who does not (because the airline incurrs extra expense), but it's not fair to have to pay more to have a chance at getting a better boarding pass (which is no expense to SWA). I understand the need to make a profit, and charging fees, unfortunately, is realistically the only way to do so and remain competitive...so start charging bag fees, but don't nickle and dime for services that should not have to be paid for, like a better boarding pass! Even though I don't like the EarlyBird idea, I'll still fly SWA...they have a long way to go to be as bad as AA or others.
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So SW found a way to charge fees anyway. Doesn't smell any worse than all the other airlines. Clever. They create a chaotic, stressful boarding system, then for $10 you can buy your way out of it. Out of chaos comes order, oops I mean comes $$$.